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Recycling vintage

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Chatter - Anything and everything' started by artizania, Dec 11, 2004.

  1. artizania

    artizania Alumni +

    First up I'll admit that the thought of buying vintage to recycle into something else sends shivers down my spine!!!
    OK if it is something beyond redemption say, but I'd have problems with perfectly good vintage being cut up to make something!

    I've only ever done anything like that once - it was a run-of-the-mill 50s wedding dress but badly stained and clearly with no resale value. I cut out the layers of net skirting to make a crinoline to use when photographing, and the lace overdress went to a friend for her art work.

    As I'm planning on weeding out unsold stuff from my stock soon, I just wondered - do any of YOU do any kind of recycling of vintage??? I know of folk who make handbags/purses or cushions/pillows from boiled down sweaters, for example.

    So do you recyle - or just trash?? Any ideas??? :)
  2. Well, first of all Margaret I am 100% with you on this.

    I am very much against folks recycling vintage in perfect shape. I am personally against making that judgement call just because "its not popular now/I didn't have luck selling it" etc, and stick with things that are not saleable because of major damage. I also assess whether something has historical, anecdotal, or any archival value even if it has major damage...like something so rare due to age, or has an important story behind it that it is worth being kept as is (and i will also offer that one of the most famous pieces of vintage in the world is in the smithsonian museum bloodstained.). I also take my "salespersons" hat off and look at it objectively.

    One way of recycling that i have seen a lot of in familes is taking a wedding dress that is too stained/moth eaten/disintegrated for a granddaughter to enjoy, that the smaller usable portions are turned into a veil or mantilla for the ancestor bride, and a christening gown for a future baby.. In fact in my mother's family, the christening gown was made from my great great grandmother's wedding dress and my mother's first communion veil was made from my grandmother's wedding veil. I have also seen parts of trains or skirts of dresses used later as shawls or some types of table runners as well.

    I think that they are great heirlooms for a family when the dress in original form is just no longer possible.

    However, we are dealing with having no connection to the original owner in most cases. their story gets seperated from it as it changes hands, and then it just becomes vintage clothing.
  3. crinolinegirl

    crinolinegirl Alumni

    If I have a Victorian or Edwardian thing that is not rare (i.e. a plain black bodice in a miniature size) and is badly shattered, I'll take off the trims whatevere else I can salvage to use to repair other period items. My mum likes the lace trims and the jet beaded panels as she uses them to trim up her modern clothes and to trim pillows for that "Victorian" look.
    But I'm with Chris though that if I can help it, I won't recycle vintage but would rather keep it whole and preserved.
    It has to be a last resort before I "dismantle" something, i.e. already falling to bits and disintegrating. Stained I can live with.

  4. I don't intentionally go out and buy vintage to cut-up and recycle but... on occasion I have gotten home and inspected an item or wash something that didn't hold up or had major flaws I didn't notice in the store. In this case, if my seamstress - the amazing Julia - can't repair it, I will do one of a couple of things. I will either remove all the usable trim, buttons, bows, zippers etc. for later use. Or if I am in love with the fabric and there is enough of it, I put it in my tub of 'stash'. I have been collecting vintage purse patterns and one day I have going to have Julia start making me some purses or some such thing. I just don't have the heart to throw away vintage clothing, no matter how bad a shape it is in. There is always something that can be salvaged from it!!

    Sigh, after a while your stock becomes like your children. Sometimes I get really sad when I have sold an item that I really love! Isn't that just sooo silly!! (But I'll bet I am not the only one of us who feels like that!)

  5. Hattysattic

    Hattysattic VFG Member

    maureen i feel like that too about some stock, especially my stuff i've held off selling for years... i do the same thing and have 2 fabric steamer trunks (and that's after reducing what i kept) full of unwearable items that have been stripped of their trims and are ready to re-use.

    i'm yet to do anything spectacular though - i need a julia!!

  6. artizania

    artizania Alumni +

    Yes, so far much of my 'recycling' of unsold (and will never sell) vintage has been to take it to the local charity shop - where no doubt it simply gets bagged up to go to the raggers! ;-(

    I suppose that's why I wondered what if anything could be done with it.
  7. It is hard to speak in hypotheticals. Each item has its own features and merits and ideas usually spring to mind when knowing what the item is and what part is usable.
  8. polyesterchesters

    polyesterchesters Registered Guest

    I send all of my un-salvagable items to my mom. She makes purses, quilts, pillows etc. out of them.

    I found this 30's silk dress that was to die for... but in very bad shape. Sent it to mom, she made a blouse from it. The best part was that the sleeves on the dress were amazing, ruffled roses almost, she saved them and put them on the blouse!!

    I LOVE MY MOM!!!!
  9. That sounds so cool! I want to see the blouse :)

    I have seen quilts made from stained/frayed ties and also from beaten and battered novelty print items as well.
  10. I have a couple of boxes of things to recycle. There is a cotton shirtdress that the pockets were torn off and left gaping holes in the base fabric. So that's about two yards of fabric that's 24" wide and working around the holes I should be able to have enough fabric make an outfit for my little girl out of one of my vintage patterns. Just a matter of finding time and energy. I have the best of intentions though.

  11. Your daughter is lucky...i can just imagine all the cool clothes she must have (or has to grow into later). I bet she grew 10 inches since the last photos you showed. I swear my sister when she was that age grew while she was sleeping.
  12. elsewhere

    elsewhere Guest

    Maureen-- we're on the same wavelength!
    I have a ton of fabric around here that I've saved with the notion that someday I will make fabulous vintage-y purses out of them. I even ordered a catalog that reproduces vintage purse-parts.
    The majority of what I end up saving is the lining and buttons from moth-eaten wool coats. The just don't line coats today with that kind of quality material!

    I just picked up about 18 bakelite buttons off a truly fabulous (but unfortunately unsalvageable) 50's coat. The SOFTEST butter colored wool... and the silkiest crepe-like lining. Yum. Can't let all that loveliness go to waste.

    I agree with everyone else about canabalizing perfectly good vintage... but I have no problem with it if that's the only way it can continue to exist with any use.

  13. bartondoll

    bartondoll Guest

    If I have items that can not be saved, and if it has antique beaded trim, metallic lace or very fine (as in weight) fabric, I'll save it for using on my
    faerie work. If it is a rather plain (i.e. not embellished) garment, I'll put it up with a couple of others as cutters - amazingly, this type of lot
    can do very well with the artisan/craft-market.

  14. That's a funny thing. Whenever i put up a crafter's lot of jewelry it gets a lot more attention that the perfect stuff. I don't know why either. The stuff I have up now is not doing anything, but USUALLY that is the case.
  15. connie

    connie Alumni

    Well I make artwork out of vintage fabric scraps that I find. Some come from clothes that are just too bad to wear. Other times I've found placemats that are stained but still have enough fabric for me to cut around. Same for old curtains. This is what I do:

    <img src=http://www.artwork.cosmiccatvintage.com/web-data/Components/paintings/march56.jpg>

    By the way, if any of you have old fabric that you want to get rid of, let me know. I'm always looking.
    Or if you're interested in having a scrap made into a painting for you, I'd be happy to give any VFG people a good discount if you let me keep the extra fabric.:)
  16. bartondoll

    bartondoll Guest

    I think these are fabulous Connie!

    Chris, I have a friend that sells a lot of jewelry and
    she has always done really well with crafters lots (like you
    sometimes better than with good wearable lots).

  17. fuzzylizzie

    fuzzylizzie Alumni

    As the owner of one of Connie's artworks, I can tell you that this is an excellent use of vintage scraps. I LOVE my little dress, and everyone who sees it is enchanted!

    As for recycling vintage, I am really opposed to the type of remodeling that many "vintage" sellers are doing at the present. Taking a Jean Desses gown and "updating" it is downright criminal, imo. I extend the same thought to chopping off perfectly good 70s maxi dresses just to make them more sellable.

    But, not every item is salvagable, as anyone who has dealt with vintage clothing for any amount of time knows. I think reusing the buttons, trims and zippers from trashed garments makes good sense. Historically, this was the way old clothing was utilized. I'm sure most of our grandmothers had a "button box" full of buttons cut off old clothing. And I have a quilt pieced by my grandmother, made from the remains of old clothes and feed sack fabric.

    I'd think that the older the garment, the more one must be careful not to cut up a valuable piece. And I'd think REAL hard before recycling a couture piece.

  18. I must second the motion about Connie's artwork...I own one too!


    Another thought...sometimes if it is not in good enough condition, someone in a theatrical production can still wear it too. There is damage that would be obvious if someone was sitting across the table from you, but there are things that you just aren't as apparent on a stage. And if the dress is really ratty...well..they could certainly play Eliza Doolittle before her transformation and the dress with smudges that don't come out and some tattered areas might just come in good use! You would believe Bob Cratchit;s family was in poor shape if you had a tattered top hat and a top coat that had been badly patched beyond intended wear and threadbare I know many productions especially educational make their costumes from scratch, but there are many found items that are always needed and thankfully stretch the budget.

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